May 23, 2008
By jarred horner, Clarkston, MI

I woke up the next morning and felt like I had been run over by a train. I couldn’t even open my left eye. I had the worst headache in the world. I was so sore that I couldn’t even get out of my bed. How did I get here? Last thing I remember I was at a huge party and someone wanted to fight me. Just as I was running through my memories my friend Carlos busted in the door.

“Wow. You look wrecked. How’s your head?”

“Dude, what the hell happened last night?” I said as I was holding the ice pack against my eye.

“Well, this is what happened in short.” Carlos said. “We got to the party, and you had a few beers. While I was introducing you to everyone, a kid named Ryan Miller came up to us. Ryan is the number one fighter in the underground circuit around here, and he saw a few videos of you online. You know that one video of you when you knocked the guy out with one punch. Well he wanted to give you a little test, he started saying some words, and you too began going back and forth.”

“Oh shoot. Why didn’t you stop us? You know he’s the best fighter on Miami Beach. You knew what I was getting into!” I said quickly.

“Well, to tell you the truth, you kept pushing me away. You guys got heated in a hurry. You only had like 3 beers too. Wow it must not take much for Iowa boys to get drunk.” Carlos said as he chuckled.

“Shut up, shut up.” I replied. “What happened next?”

“Well Ryan pushed you and that basically started it all.” Carlos said in a soft toned voice. “You took off your jacket, and a crowd formed around us. Everyone was cheering for Ryan, I mean; he is the big man on campus in this school.”

“Yea, yea.” I said as I lifted the left leg of my sweatpants up over my knee, revealing the biggest, ugliest bruise I’ve ever seen in my life. This bruise was terrible. Worst than any bruise I’ve ever gotten in football. I was amazed just looking at it.

“Wow dude. That’s an incredible bruise.” Carlos said as he stared straight at my leg. “Anyways, you took the first swing, and paid for it. You came over the top and whiffed and Ryan gave u a mean uppercut to the jaw. That could explain why the bottom of you chin is green. Next you regained your balance and he took a few swings at you. You dodged them all, but right after you tried to hit him with a right hook, he gave you the most powerful kick to you left leg that I’ve ever seen in my life. He kicked you so hard that everyone at the whole party felt their legs go numb. You dropped straight to the ground. He pounced on top of you, and, well you can guess where it went from there. He only hit you with a few to the face, but I knew it was enough to black you out. I scraped you up off the ground, and drove you home. You owe me hot shot.”

“Wow.” I said. “That’s really embarrassing. I can’t even go to school on Monday. My face is going to be bruised for weeks!”

“Yea dude. I didn’t know what to say. But if you ever want to get back at him, you have better start training quick, because there is a big showdown in two weeks at the Battle of the Undergrounds. Every street fighter is there, and if you ever want to beat him, that would be the place to do it. But for now I gatta go, call me later man.” Carlos said as he walked out of my room.

All I could say is wow. I had been embarrassed in public. Hardcore. This is the worst thing that could have ever happened to me. I mean, first day at a new school, my first night in Florida, I get absolutely rocked. This is not how I imagined living in Florida would be. I imagined palm trees swaying, pretty girls everywhere, and parties every night. As of now, all I was living in Florida was my nightmare. How am I supposed to go back to school and show my face in front of all those kids? God, I didn’t know what I was going to do, but all I did know was that I had to get back at Ryan. Show him what I was made of. Prove to him that I was here to stay. I’m not the type to be pushed around like this. I will Never Back Down.

A week went by, and what do you know, I was the laughing stock of Palm Springs High. I was over that though, and I was passed being beat by Ryan. I had started training at a gym called One-Two-K.O. The head master at the gym was a black man named Placido Fernandez. Placido took me in without any refusal, pointed out my weaknesses and showed me how to improve them. I was loving every second of it. He showed my how I let my guard down when I received that bone crunching kick to my left leg. I was taught how to use counter attacks, and how to overpower my opponent. I was gaining strength, mentally and physically. I was sculpting a solid body and form since I had been working out every day. I felt as if I was ready, ready to take down the man that humiliated me publicly and physically. I was prepared.

That Wednesday night at home my mom approached me. She had a very worried look on her face and I knew that she was going to say something against my training everyday.

“Jacob. We need to have a talk” she said quietly.

“What’s wrong mom?” I replied.

“Well, it’s just the fact that you are never home. You leave in the morning and go to school, and go straight to the gym after school. You don’t come home till 8 at night and you never spend time with me or your little brother. You know, the main reason that we moved down here to Florida is so that your brother Mark could play in all of those tennis tournaments and get better. He has been playing very good lately and has been winning his tournaments. And you know something, you haven’t gone to even one of them. Not even a match. Do you know how that makes him feel? Like you don’t even care about him, or his success. You need to start putting some effort in around here, or you won’t be doing anything at all. You can start by going to his tournament on Friday. It’s a huge one for him, and I think you showing up and watching him is just what he needs.

“Mom I’ve just been busy lately.” I said in reply to her five minute speech. How was I going to make it to that tennis match on Friday if the fight was Friday night? I was in a tough situation, and I needed to find my way out of it and fast. “I’m sorry to say this, but I can’t make it to the tennis match Friday.”

“Why Jacob? I’m so sick of all your non since lately. There is no reason that you can’t make it. We’ve only been living here for two weeks! What could you possibly have going on?” my mom screamed at me.

“I told this new girl that I would take her on a date. She is really nice; I’m starting to really like her, just please mom let me go on this date. I promise I will make it to the next match. Please mom?” I said with a sad expression on my face.

“Alright Jake. You owe me big time. If you brother comes crying to me because you’re not there watching him, I’m going to be really mad. He always complains because he doesn’t have your support.” My mom said.

“Mom, I’ll go to the next one and I’ll MAKE SURE he knows that I’m there.” I said with a smile on my face.

Well, tonight was the big night. I walked into the arena with my friend Carlos and took a good look around. It was incredible. Flashing lights, music bumping louder than I’ve ever heard, and an announcer saying everything that was going on in the fights. I looked up on the electronic scoreboard and it showed Ryan Miller V.S. Jake Ryan. He must have already signed us up. We were up in two fights, and I was nervous. I just kept trying to recall everything that Placido taught me. Every move, every counter attack.

Eventually I was being pushed by Carlos to the ring in the middle of about three hundred people, where I found Ryan in a blue bath robe, staring me down. He walked across the ring and approached me.

“Hey loser.” He said with a grin on his face. “Last time I saw you, I believe you were laying on your back, crying for your mommy. Do you even remember who I am? I am the KING around here. I can’t be touched, so gimmie all you got, because I plan on shutting you up tonight.”

“You think you’re the king around here? Well there’s about to be a new king here. You can still be the princess though.” I said as I stared into his eyes. I think that really pissed him off. He turned around and went right back to his corner, took his shirt off, and glared at me from across the ring.

This was it. It was go time. This was what I have been training and working out for. I wanted to win. I wanted to smother him. I wanted to really show him who was boss. This was my time. His was over and done with. It was MY time. I heard the bell ring twice, and we were off.

The fight only took about 7 minutes. I guess it was a pretty equal fight, and I expected it to be. I’m not going to lie; I got into the zone, and basically blacked out during the fight. I don’t remember any of it, except that bell ringing to start us and the bell ringing to end us. I remember seeing him laying face down on the mat, blood all round him. I knocked him out, fair and square. I suffered three broken ribs, and a dislocated jaw. My face was all bent out of shape, but I know he was in worse shape than I was. He wasn’t at school for the next week, and I was king of the ring.

I had done exactly what I had wanted to do, and I showed him what was up. I told my mom that it was the last time that I would ever fight, and she was pissed that I had lied to her. I never missed another tennis match of my brothers for the year, and I’m glad that I didn’t. He’s really good and I didn’t even know it. He really caught me by surprise. Anyway, I became king of Palm Springs High, and Ryan finally became the laughing stock. I had shown him and this town what I was made of, and I proved to myself and to everyone else that I would Never Back Down.

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